Leading up to the Home Run Derby last Monday in Minnesota, we heard several players — Jose Abreu and Mike Trout among them — cite the myth that the Derby leads to second-half woes. Perhaps Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton can serve as evidence in the opposite direction.
The slugger, who lost 1-0 in the semifinals of the Home Run Derby to Todd Frazier, homered on Friday and Saturday against the Giants, the first two games back from the All-Star break. Stanton went into the break slumping, going homerless with a .580 OPS in his previous 15 games. As MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports, Stanton credits the Derby for helping rediscover his swing:
“Having to lock in for the Derby made me feel better,” Stanton said. “I wasn’t myself the last couple of weeks. The short time off and the Derby kind of helped me out. I think it will be all right.”
Stanton leads the National League with 23 home runs. He is locked in a tie with Paul Goldschmidt for the league lead in RBI with 65 and he carries an impressive .295/.394/.551 slash line.
As Ken Woolums and Daniel R. Braunstein explained at Five Thirty Eight, a hitter’s second-half decline has more to do with expected regression rather than messed up mechanics caused by the Home Run Derby.
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.
Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.
The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.
Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.
After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.
Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.
Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.
The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.